Fifteen Bucks for a Joy Ride

They have retrieved Peanut again from one of his neighborhood escapades, covered his new hole with a rock, and come back inside. It’s dusk on a warm, humid evening. Their mother is playing Super Mario Brothers. After Kevin showed her on his system, he gave her a turn, and she took them out that day to buy their first Nintendo Entertainment System. Now, they have Super Mario Brothers, The Legend of Zelda, Tetris, Tecmo Bowl, and a handful of others.

The boy is flipping through the sports section of the Corpus Christi Caller Times, while his Dad is on the sofa reading the world news section. Stephen is paying attention to Mom’s game and advising her on moves.

“So Peanut got away again, huh?” says Dad.

Hearing his name, Peanut trots in from the kitchen and looks up at Dad. Dad leans down and scratches his ears. “Made another break for it, huh?” Dad says to Peanut. “You don’t like being stuck behind a fence, do you?”

“He seems to feel the need to roam the neighborhood about once a week,” says the boy.

“Sounds like my old dog Freckles. Did I ever tell you about Freckles?” Dad says.

“A little,” says the boy.

“He was smaller than Peanut. A cross between a beagle and a dachshund. And he was a great dog. Great dog. But he had just enough mischief in him to make him interesting.”

“What do you mean?” says the boy.

“Well, one day, Freckles disappeared from the backyard. Got under the gate or something. So Dad went out looking for him, and when he couldn’t find him on our block, he got the car, and he drove all over Orem looking for him. Couldn’t find him. At last, he thought he’d try the Orem City dog pound as a last resort. Sure enough, they had Freckles there. Dad had to pay $15 to get him out.”

“Got caught by the dog catcher, huh,” says the boy.

“Well, that’s the best part. As Dad is paying, the guy at the pound says, ‘You got a funny dog here, Mister.’ Dad says, ‘How so?’ The man says, ‘Well, we rounded up about fifteen to twenty dogs, had them in the back of our truck. And there are some folks in town who don’t think we should be catching dogs. While we were stopped trying to grab another stray, someone came along, opened the gate, and let all the dogs out. Well, almost all the dogs. One dog was still in there. This fella here.'”

“Freckles stayed in the truck?” the boy says.

Dad laughs. “Yes! That’s the thing. Freckles loved car rides and adventures. So he loved riding in the big dog catcher truck, and when he had a chance to get away, he stayed cuz he’d way rather ride in the truck. Dad was so mad. ‘Fifteen bucks for your joy ride!'”

“That’s funny,” says the boy.

“That’s what Peanut reminds me of a little bit. Gotta get out and spread his wings.”

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